The diachronic study of language and its evolution.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

0
votes
0answers
3 views

Was the change in spelling from “cw” to “qu” in English associated with any difference in pronunciation?

I always thought that "cw" in Old English represented /kw/, and the same for modern English "qu", and that the change from one to the other was purely orthographic, since the "qu" digraph was more ...
3
votes
0answers
56 views

Help us save a dying language with only 1 speaker left! [on hold]

It's difficult to do this single-handedly, so I could use some professional help. :) I'm a professor of Ancient Egyptian (and cosmology as well, which means I'm a perfect target for conspiracy ...
0
votes
0answers
13 views

What's the best way to combine systemic functional grammar and historical linguistics?

One last question, ladies and gentlemen, sorry about that. What's the best way to combine SFL/SFG and historical linguistics? I've just thought of diachronic genre analysis as being an interesting ...
1
vote
1answer
56 views

What is the current status of (systemic) functional grammar/linguistics

I'm sorry if my questions may sound rudimentary, so please bear with me. :-) I'm thinking of delving deeper into functional grammar/linguistics (most probably systemic in particular), perhaps with ...
1
vote
1answer
72 views

Why is the past participle of the French « lire » « lu », but « rire » « ri »?

Phonologically,« lire » and « rire » sound like a minimal pair, with the first letter as the only difference. So what might explain the difference between their « participes passé »? Their etymons ...
2
votes
1answer
53 views

Languages showing affricate-to-plosive fortition (especially diachronically)

It is well known that consonant lenition or weakening tends to be far more common cross-linguistically than the opposite process called fortition or strengthening. Now, some languages have been ...
1
vote
4answers
74 views

How was the /y/ initial in Middle Chinese borrowed into Vietnamese?

http://nomfoundation.org/common/nom_details.php?codepoint=8d0f 贏 doanh Why does the Vietnamese pronunciation of this character start with 'd'? From what I have read, this letter represented a /ð/ in ...
0
votes
0answers
27 views

Please recommend books on Spanish's historical linguistics? [on hold]

Does this request concern something else than 'historical linguistics'? I desire to dig deeper into Spanish, to discover possible explanations or reasons for features of French counterintuitive to an ...
-1
votes
0answers
76 views

What are some resources that linguistically explain French's difficulties? [on hold]

My request concerns more than 'historical linguistics' and a history of the French language. So which terms most aptly describe my request? Please recommend books or resources, in English and/or ...
2
votes
1answer
55 views

English & Competing Borrowings: How many “pre-Norman” loanwords are known to have been replaced by “post-Hastings” ones?

What I am looking for: As my question suggests, I'm interested in words English has adopted from other languages. More specifically, I'm interested in old Celtic or Scandinavian (or other) loanwords ...
6
votes
2answers
126 views

Difference between “Leiden school” and “mainstream” Indo-Europeanists?

Recently, I've been asked what the difference between the "Leiden school" and "mainstream" Indo-Europeanists is. The asker is planning to study in Leiden and has been concerned with the many vague ...
0
votes
2answers
74 views

How did French lose the Latin -v-?

[Source:] Loss of Latin -v- is regular in French in some situations (compare alleger from alleviare; neige from nivea; jeune from juvenis. A different sound evolution from the Latin word yielded ...
2
votes
3answers
61 views

Is there a website where you can find cognates of certain word in other IE branches?

Just as in the title :) I wonder if there is a tool on the internet which would help in finding cognates of certain word in as much branches as possible. Say I want to find find all the cognates in ...
0
votes
1answer
55 views

Which famous linguists embrace historical logic to understand language?

[Source:] As other commenters have noted, looking for logic in language is almost always futile. No natural language is logical. But there is a historical logic to language development; even if the ...
2
votes
1answer
60 views

What is the approximate time of the loss of the intervocalic /s/ in Greek?

Teachers of Ancient Greek at my university have always been emphasising the importance of being aware of the loss of the intervocalic sigma in the language's history, because it helped to understand ...
2
votes
2answers
58 views

Calculating writing system efficiency with respect to reading ambiguity?

I have been thinking of developing a software tool that would make it possible to calculate the efficiency of a particular writing system (attested rather than hypothetical) for a particular language ...
0
votes
0answers
29 views

Possible connection between PIE Ablaut and Semitic vowel alternation

Since I started to read about language typology and then got a hint about PIE ablaut system I have been wondering if there might be any prehistorical connection between these families at least ...
5
votes
1answer
63 views

Is the prefix “proto-” reserved only for unattested languages ?

I'm not sure if there's a consensus in linguistic nomenclature about using the aforementioned prefix in naming the reconstructed languages. As we all probably know, in linguistics, there's a custom ...
2
votes
3answers
87 views

What are good linguistic arguments for keeping heterographic homophones?

While having a discussion with a friend who oft malapropriates their/there/they're, and to/too/two, he maintains the position that he has a: "disbelief that the current system is the best one" ...
0
votes
0answers
19 views

Word ageing: what reliable bibliographical references can be recommended?

I have encountered the notion of "word ageing". Lexemes (unless and until replaced through internal or external innovation) grow older and older, and with time they tend to (1) acquire some additional ...
1
vote
2answers
131 views

Base language of Mitanni Texts

I was going through the sources for early indo-iranian and according to B. Fortson the first documented manifestation of this branch are the proper names in Mitanni Texts. Since the indo-iranian word ...
1
vote
0answers
38 views

What is the difference between grammaticalization and grammaticization?

I have encountered two terms recently: grammaticalization and grammaticisation. While in most papers I have read so far both terms seem to be used interchangeably, the following paper appears to ...
1
vote
1answer
50 views

How does inflection evolve in languages?

Is there an explanation, or maybe even an observation, how inflection appears in a language? With inflection I mean phenomena like the germanic ablaut ("man/men", "Mann/Männer") or the inflection in ...
0
votes
0answers
73 views

Why were written sentences longer in the past?

These ELU answers affirm, but do not explain, the decrease in written sentence length. So why? To allow for comparison with modern dialects, I restrict this question to: writing in European ...
0
votes
1answer
71 views

Why might consonants have been thought of, as sounds only produced together with vowels?

consonant (n.) [←] [...] from Latin [...] from com- "with" (see com-) + sonare "to sound" (see sonata). Consonants were thought of as sounds that are only produced together with vowels. I wish ...
0
votes
0answers
47 views

How did 'of' 's figurative meanings evolve from 'away, away from'?

of (prep.) [⇐] Old English of, unstressed form of æf (prep., adv.) "away, away from" [...], from PIE *apo- "off, away" (see apo-). Primary sense in Old English still was "away," but shifted in ...
0
votes
1answer
101 views

Where does my weird way of saying 'no' comes from?

At least in the region of Brazil where I come from (triângulo mineiro, Brazilian Texas I'd say ;) ) people have a very weird way of saying 'no' to others. I discovered that it was weird after moving ...
1
vote
0answers
46 views

Stability of palatalized consonants

Some palatalized consonants seem to have a greater tendency to "absorb" their palatalization (in various ways) than others. For example, in standard Japanese, the former palatalized alveolars tj, dj, ...
4
votes
0answers
91 views

Why do we use an upward inflection when asking questions?

I have tried Googling where the upward inflection comes from but all I get are "Valley Girl" results. My curiosity in this started with my new German Language course I'm taking and noticed that the ...
1
vote
1answer
33 views

Why does väcka/wecken seem to be built as a causative although vakna/wachen is a weak verb?

The causative verbs in germanic languages are built upon the preterite of a strong verb. However there's one verb that seems to fall out of that scheme: Swedish: vakna - väcka; German: (auf)wachen - ...
1
vote
1answer
58 views

What are the possible impetuses for loss of Middle English shwa?

I'm wondering what some possible catalysts/ reasons for loss of final -e /ǝ/ in Middle English might have been (For instance, OE /tɑlu/ > ME /taːlǝ/ > MnE tale /teɪl/). I'm wondering because to my ...
0
votes
1answer
110 views

Does anyone know what language this is?

Maybe even what the English translation is? I believe that there are hedera's present, directing it towards Latin maybe? Sorry for the bad quality
0
votes
1answer
105 views

Why there are no grammatical cases in the French language?

As far as I know, the French language is considered as a Romance language, which is derived, in its turn, from the Latin language. The last one has a rich grammatical cases system. I am interested to ...
5
votes
1answer
126 views

Are there any words that have merged in pronunciation and spelling and then separated again?

Are there any words that started off different, merged in pronunciation and spelling at some point and then separated again? E.g. Two hypothetical words in Old English OX and OY are neither ...
0
votes
1answer
77 views

Is Chechen language close to Chinese?

If the both originate from Proto-Sino-Caucasian, then Chechen language should be close to Chinese. Is there any indication for this?
7
votes
3answers
99 views

Why does word-initial upsilon always have a rough breathing?

How did a rough breathing develop before all words starting with an upsilon in Ancient Greek? This is a commonly noted fact about the distribution of these sounds (or rather spellings), but I’m having ...
8
votes
1answer
98 views

Where do the spelling rules for French imperatives come from?

French verbs are, for historical reasons, typically grouped into three classes. The loss of final consonants in French has resulted in a serious divergence, wherein the verb conjugation system of the ...
2
votes
2answers
75 views

Why are placenames considered to be a valid way of identifying a substratum?

I've been reading about different methods used in linguistics, and I've been puzzled by the usage of placenames in identifying substratums in modern languages. Just because some language and its ...
5
votes
3answers
391 views
4
votes
1answer
89 views

Etymology of Greek Enualios

Enualios or Enyalius (Ἐνυάλιος) is, in Homer and other Greek authors, either an epithet of the war god Ares or else the name of a separate god, the son of Ares and brother or partner of Enyo (whose ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

What word did the English use before 'because'?

Looking at the origin of the word 'because' I find it evolved from the phrase 'by cause', which was influenced by the French par cause de ; 'by cause' appeared in Middle English. What word was in use ...
0
votes
1answer
69 views

What are the different ways prosodic features of a language are represented throughout the history of linguistics?

I can name a few: 1. Tones as numbers 2. Intonation contour as a line above the sentence 3. Tones as lines above segments 4. Stress marks before stress syllables ['white house] vs [white 'house] But ...
5
votes
2answers
197 views

Has grammatical gender ever been observed to emerge in a language that previously had none?

Does a language exist whose older forms are known to have lacked the category of grammatical gender, and which proceeded to evolve one (perhaps from a non-gender-based system of noun classes)? Are ...
1
vote
1answer
133 views

Origin of “Eridanus”: Indo-European or Sumerian?

With the discovery and decipherment of ancient Babylonian and Sumerian texts in the 19th century a theory was offered that the name of the river constellation Eridanus, which appears in the poem ...
6
votes
3answers
180 views

The French of Shakespeare — why does it seem so modern?

In Henry V, Shakesperean English is difficult to understand (even for modern native English speakers -- at least for me) without a good amount of help. However, there are a few scenes conducted ...
0
votes
1answer
46 views

History of languages from a geographical perspective

Unfortunately I am totally unaware of the research and most of the basic methodology of Linguistics, but I am really keen on knowing more about languages because I am a passionate learner of new ones, ...
2
votes
2answers
314 views

German long “o” vs. “au”. Is there a rule?

There are common words in Germanic languages that have a long "o" vowel in the stem, and which in modern German seem to be either "o" or "au" randomly. Examples: Dutch ROOD, Swedish RÖD, German ROT ...
5
votes
2answers
478 views

Why do languages with such different alphabets use the same common punctuation marks?

From my experience, many languages with absolutely different alphabets colloquially use the same common punctuation marks, such as: the question mark (?), for inquiring/interrogatives exclamation ...
2
votes
1answer
182 views

Why does gang-nam and viet-nam both contain nam meaning south when one is in Korean the other Vietnamese?

Does anyone know why there is a character that is common to both the Koreans and the Vietnamese? Are there any other examples of these kind of similarity?
8
votes
2answers
319 views

Why “Kampuchea” → “Cambodia”?

Many place names in English are anglicizations/transliterations of their native names. Of those, many place names in Asia seem to have undergone a change over the past few decades: they've gone from a ...